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350 Fifth Avenue: The Empire State Building

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Imagine if you will that you are 1454 feet in the air, riding a gigantic

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Blimp over the majestic city of New York at night.  The dirigible comes to a soft halt and is secured.  As you get ready to disembark you see the most incredible view of the Big Apple that you have ever seen as you float above it nearly a half mile in the sky.  It is September 16, 1931 and you and your fellow passengers are the first and, sadly, last group of people that will ever do what you are about to do; Exit a blimp and enter directly into the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building.

Although it only happened once and was then discontinued out of safety fears, the Empire State Building offered amazing sights of the city back then and still does to this very day, along with boasting quite a few marvelous engineering triumphs.

In 1932 when it was completed it became the highest skyscraper in the world, a record it held onto until 1972 when the North Tower of the World Trade Center was built. Today it’s still the world’s 9th tallest skyscraper and, with the loss of the World Trade Center, has once again become the highest building in New York - at least until One World Trade Center is completed.

Amazingly the Empire State building only took 410 days to build, a little over 13 months! 7 million man hours were needed to compete the building using 57,000 tons of steel.  In 1931 there were no such things as wireless networks or even fiber-optic cables and so over 17 million feet of telephone wiring was needed to connect the millions of telephones in the tower.

The Empire State Building was the very first to use ‘fast-track’ construction, a common technique today but revolutionary during the 1930’s. What this meant is that the actual construction of the building would begin before the designs were completed. This helped reduce building delays and also keep inflation costs down. The process was also used for another, more self-aggrandizing purpose; to win the race for ‘Tallest Building in the World’ that had begun between General Motors executive John J. Raskob, who had conceived the Empire State project, and his arch-rival Walter Chrysler and his eponymous building.

The Empire State Building remains a model of skyscraper construction efficiency. The steel was manufactured in Pittsburgh, PA and each beam transported immediately to New York already marked for the exact spot that it would be used in the framework. In as little as 80 hours after they left the Pittsburgh steel forge the beams would be riveted into place on the building, a speed almost unheard of at the time and still unrivaled by most skyscraper projects.

With over 3400 workers on the project a one time or another the installation of the various parts and systems of the building had to be finely tuned in order for everything to proceed on schedule. A writer at the time described the project as similar to an assembly line, except that the finished product stood still while the line itself moved. Many new construction techniques were developed at the time and facilitated the completion of the building ahead of schedule and under budget - something rarely seen in modern times.

As famous landmarks go the Empire State Building is among the elite in the world, featured during the last 80 plus years in many memorable movies and television shows as well as standing as a symbol of New York. King Kong climbed her 102 stories (even though he skipped the 1860 steps) and Fidel Castro even stopped by for a visit. A vast array of floodlights adorns the uppermost floors and shine down on the City during many American holidays, and the building is naturally lit up more than 100 times a year by lightning, as it was designed to do.

To the roughly 35,000 people a day that visit, the Empire State Building is one of New York’s great wonders and rightly so.  It's an enduring symbol of not only New York but the United States, a reminder that Americans of all races and nationalities, when working together, can create something truly incredible.

Looking for office space in the Empire State Building? Contact Us for Current Availability: Office Space in the Empire State Building

Mar 1, 2012

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